Afghans from various walks of life have launched a social media campaign “Stop Afghan War” as the country grapples with mounting coronavirus infections and deaths against the backdrop of ensuing violence.
Peace activists say the toxic mix of raging violence and COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the war-ravaged country.
Hospital sources and Health Ministry officials told Anadolu Agency they are overstretched way beyond their limits as the raging violence has put restrictions on their mobility and their ability to cope with the situation.
“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan but little childhood. #StopAfghanWar,” Attiqur Rahman, a peace activist, wrote on Twitter.
“Afghans want an end to this 40-year long war. We have lost family members, friends and crème de la crème of Afghanistan. It’s time to stop this bloodshed and collectively rebuild our country. We deserve to live in peace and prosperity. #StopAfghanWar”, Mohsin Amin, another Twitter user, wrote.
Afghanistan on Sunday recorded 85 fatalities over the past 24 hours, the highest single-day spike in the country since the beginning of the pandemic, bringing the death toll 3,612. The country also registered 1,597 new coronavirus infections, pushing the total number of cases to 91,458.
Naqeeb Ahmad, a local shopkeeper, rushed his father, a COVID-19 patient, from restive central Ghazni province to the capital Kabul, dodging live rounds of fire exchanged by the Taliban and the government forces throughout the stretch of some 150 kilometers (93 miles) between the two cities.
“Situation in Ghazni was worst in terms of security, but here in Kabul, the same havoc is caused by coronavirus. No public or private hospital was accepting my father due to lack of beds and acute shortage of oxygen,” he told Anadolu Agency.
“Finally, I got a bed in a private clinic out of desperation only when I promised to provide oxygen on my expense through open market at a price of 20,000 afghani ($255) per cylinder,” he added.
Long lines of anxious people seeking oxygen in the market showed not all Afghans could afford this.
‘Senseless push for military solution’
Ruhullah Sarwan, a peace activist behind the #StopAfghanWar campaign, told Anadolu Agency they want the warring factions to stop the senseless war, and realize there is no military solution to the situation in the country.
“In peace lies welfare for all, that is the message we want to send out,” he said.
“There is no reason for the Taliban and the Afghan government to continue fighting. We want peace,” Paiman Afghan, a social media activist, wrote on Twitter.
Zabihullah Farhang, spokesman for the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission, told Anadolu Agency that the commission documented at least 39 civilian deaths in the first week after President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“Civilians were killed in sticky and roadside bomb blasts and armed attacks in Farah, Parwan, Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces,” he said, adding that the dead included four women and eight children.
Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered a share in power to the Taliban, provided the group ends the war and bloodshed.
“Afghanistan is once again facing critical circumstances … the success of jihad (against Soviet Union) was due to harmony among the people and the national unity. Similarly, we can reach sustainable and just peace through a cohesive and unified voice,” he said at a public gathering.
The Taliban rejected this offer and have since been declining repeated calls for a cease-fire.
The group has been blaming “elements” within the Afghan government for war-mongering and deliberately sabotaging efforts for peace.
On Tuesday, the Taliban claimed capturing one more district in the northern Faryab province amid escalating violence leading to killings on all sides.
According to the local Tolo News, out of 387 districts and 34 provincial capitals, the centers of at least 17 districts have fallen to the insurgents over the last two months.
Since the announcement of an exit date of September 2021 for American troops by the US President Joe Biden, Afghanistan has been witnessing a spike in deadly Taliban assaults across the country.
The most conservative estimates by local and international rights group suggest that close to 47,600 civilians have been killed and more than double that number injured in Afghanistan during the 20 years of war since the US invasion.
“If we don’t end war, war will end us,” tweeted another peace activist, Zahid Bashir, quoting the prolific English writer, Herbert George Wells.
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